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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are game shows and talk shows the last gasp of stand-up comedy?
Posted by Jill | 10:22 PM
I can't say I was thrilled with the premiere of the Wanda Sykes show last week. Sykes is the funniest woman in America when she does her own material. But her own material is often too raw even for Fox, even late at night. And discussing spanking with Z-list "celebrities" no one has ever heard of? I'm afraid Bill Maher doesn't have to sit up nights worrying.

On a recent WTF podcast, Marc Maron tried on the "Cranky Old Man" role that Andy Rooney has been doing on 60 Minutes for decades. He does a mean Andy Rooney, but I still think that there's a real talk show in him screaming to get out. I don't know what form it'll take, but Maron is giving tantalizing hints of things in the works, even if a recent experience at E! Network left his brain feeling "like it had been ass-raped by clowns."

But something is afoot with comedians these days. Sykes has her ill-advised show, at least for now. Joy Behar is faring better on HNN. And comics who aren't hosting talk shows are getting into the game show biz.

Perhaps it's the radio success of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me", which provides regular doses of Paula Poundstone and Mo Rocca. "Wait Wait" is also being tested for television. Maron BFF Greg Proops has his own game show, Head Games, on Discovery Channel. Now our old friend Sam Seder is dipping his toes into the game show waters, taping a pilot for something that sounds like a somewhat more sophomoric version of "Wait Wait", called "Have I Got News For You", an American version of a British program, billed as a "New Political Comedy and Quiz Show." The pilot tapes next Friday, November 20, in New York City. Ticket information is here.

With talk shows and game shows being the purview of guys whom we're more used to seeing in front of mikes in formerly smoky clubs, can variety shows be far behind? I'm waiting for the Jewy Jew Comedy Hour with Maron and Seder to premiere on CBS sometime in 2014. Perhaps Leigh French is still available.


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Blogger Bob said...
Craig Ferguson compensates for minor & passe celebs by mocking his show & himself as low budget, & by inviting on some first rate writers he admires like Lawrence Block & Laura Lippman & treating them as stars, which they are in their world.

Blogger Jayhawk said...
I know I have checked out Jay Leno a few times and I am actually embarrased for him at how painfully unfunny he is. They pay people, I think, to sit in the studio and laugh when the sign lights up.

Then there are the "comedians" that Keith Olbermann brings in for his "Number 1" segments. I don't know where he finds them, but I simply cannot hit the button on the remote fast enough. Gack.